Allen Community College’s storied baseball history will be recalled with laughs, and most likely a few tears Saturday.
The Red Devil Diamond Club will induct six new members into its hall of fame: longtime head coach Val McLean; Joe Haynes, the school’s first baseball coach; two members of the school’s 1983 NJCAA World Series team, Duane Wales and Rod Rush; Richard Thomas, an All-American from the Red Devils’ 1990 squad; and the late Rich Weisensee, who starred with the 1977 and 1978 teams.
Many of the attendees will attend the Red Devils’ baseball doubleheader against Neosho County, starting at noon. Last year’s inductees will be introduced between the games.
Tickets for the 6:15 p.m. banquet are on sale through Allen’s school website — my.allencc.edu/RDBanquet.aspx — and will be available at the door.
AS MEMBERS of the 1983 World Series team, Wales and Rush already are HOF inductees in one aspect — the entire team was a part of the inaugural class last spring.
Wales was a prototypical slugger for the 1983 team. An Ohio native, Wales was keyed to Allen after talking with a Philadelphia Phillies scout while he was still in high school.
He was a smashing success — literally — as the team’s designated hitter.
As a freshman, Wales broke Allen records for hits (88), home runs (17) and RBIs (86), while helping the Red Devils claim a division title.
The accolades grew from there.
He broke his own team record for hits as a sophomore with 92 and pounded 25 home runs, still a team record, with 88 RBIs.
Rush starred as a center fielder.
The Lawrence native was a multi-sport standout in high school. While with Allen, he was drafted twice in the same year — by the Phillies in the winter draft and by the New York Yankees in the spring draft — but chose to continue his schooling instead.
He played at Oklahoma City University following his two years at ACC, where he broke 150 school and Midwestern City Conference offensive records and became a third-round draft pick of the San Francisco Giants.
WEISENSEE remains the school’s single-season record holder for batting average.
“I’ll never forget my years at ACC,” he was quoted as saying in a Facebook post published by the Diamond Club. “Academically, my professors prepared me not only for the rest of my educational career, but also for my business career and my personal life. Playing baseball at ACC were the ‘best’ years in my entire athletic career starting out in Little League. I will cherish the times I spent with my teammates and coaches always!”
Weisensee was one of five Shawnee Mission West High classmates who enrolled at Allen for the 1976-77 season.
He started at shortstop and batted .406 his freshman year and .491 his sophomore season, which still ranks first in ACC history.
“I just remember the camaraderie with everybody on the team,” he told the Register in a telephone interview in February.
Weisensee was part of a 1978 squad that went 33-6, which also ranks first in school history.
After earning an associate degree at ACC, Weisensee played at Missouri Southern State College in Joplin, where he again started at shortstop for the Lions. He was voted team MVP at MSSC in 1980 and led the team in batting with a .444 average.
He was inducted into the Missouri Southern Athletic Hall of Fame in 2007.
Weisensee died March 19, almost a year to the day after he was diagnosed with leukemia.